Genocidal rape as an asymmetrical warface tactic

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During the conflicts in Bosnia and Hercegovina (hereafter: BiH) and Rwanda, mass rapes were used as an asymmetric warfare tactic. There is still a need to understand this phenomenon, because it is still used today. Human Rights Watch reported that Burmese army men have raped women that are part of the Rohingya group, in order to carry out a policy of genocide. Women rights advocates in Kosovo are to this day still fighting for the rights of women that were victims of genocidal rape during the conflict in 1999. There is no “one size fits all” explanation for what influences the use of genocidal rape, because most research is only relevant to its context. This thesis tries to transcend context by comparing two of the most leading cases. For the first time in international justice history, in both cases, multiple perpetrators were indicted for crimes of rape as part of a larger genocidal policy. For this thesis the research question is how assumptions of gender during times of peace influence the use of genocidal rape during a conflict. BiH and Rwanda are relevant cases to study this phenomenon because the conflicts happened around the same time, the perpetrators were convicted of the same type of crimes, and both cases were very well documented by the media and other sources like Human Rights Watch. The methods of this thesis are based on a document analysis, which focused on three concepts: The first is Macro-level humiliation, which entails that rape is not perceived to be an attack on an individual woman, but on the social field that she belongs to. The second important concept is importance of female virginity, which entails that women who are raped are perceived to be ‘damaged’ by the social field that they belong to. The last is ethnicity linked to genetics, this concept translates to the fact that in some social field’s, men are the ones that pass on their ethnicity to the next generation. That means that if a man from another social field impregnates a woman, the child belongs to the social field of the perpetrator. The analysis shows that all three concepts are important, in both BiH and Rwanda these are present in varying degrees. All concepts enforce one another and influence the use of genocidal rape during conflict. It seems that certain assumptions of gender do influence the use of genocidal rape during conflic
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